South Carolina Friends have met annually since 1999 for the Palmetto Friends Gathering. There are currently eight Meetings and/or Worship Groups affiliated with the Gathering. All practice the distinctive silent worship traditionally associated with Quakers and work together for peace and social justice.
While it would be challenging to honor all of the Quaker Faith and Practice of Bruce Pearson, this effort is to add detail. Bruce has been described as the “backbone” of Columbia Friends Meeting, and was clerk there. His thoughtful and forthright clerking style navigated the meeting through Quaker process and service. Bruce led Columbia Friends to work on upkeep of the Bush River Cemetery, once also the location of a thriving Quaker community. His efforts helped preserve this historic location where up to hundreds of Friends once gathered for quarterly meeting. Bruce’s ancestry included early Quaker settlers in South Carolina, who eventually joined the migration and left for parts north and west, including his home state of Indiana in the run up to the Civil War. As an advocate against the death penalty, Bruce was active in Amnesty, International. He was the SC State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator and a regular prison visitor. With others, Bruce was arrested when they attempted to block a delivery truck entering the Broad River Correctional facility. He organized execution vigils and edited the book The Death Penalty in SC: Outlook for the 80’s. He and his wife Julie adopted a man on death row. He created the first anti-death penalty group in SC. He worked with the Progressive Network, producing pamphlets and receiving the Thunder and Lightning Award, in recognition of leadership and commitment to human and civil rights in the mid-1990’s for his death penalty work. He was a signer on the first statewide gathering of Quakers in modern times, the Palmetto Friends Gathering that met in Myrtle Beach at the Christian Retreat Center the weekend of January 12-14, 1990. He helped to plan PFG annual weekends and served as clerk for the 5th and 6th annual Gatherings. Bruce was a skilled mentor, and worked closely with Rebecca Rogers as she seasoned her clerking skills. He is remembered fondly by Ron Caz who took over the Amnesty role in 1991, for his training and support. In 2004 Bruce and Julie affiliated with the Salem-Black River Friends meeting for a short time before moving to Indiana. Recollections provided by: Ron Caz, Grace Gifford, Sallie Prugh, Becci Robbins, Harry Rogers and Anna Shockley
Join the South Carolina FCNL Advocacy Team! Contact us for more information
Ending the Practice of Solitary Confinement: Recommendations for Federal Reform Some of you probably know that solitary confinement was, to our everlasting shame, started by Quakers. They thought it would be good for prisoners to have quiet time to themselves to help them transform their lives. Unfortunately, solitary confinement quickly became a type of torture, so now we must campaign to end the practice. Please consider signing the petition shown below from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Lynn Newsom, Palmetto Friends Gathering and Priscilla Preston, Columbia Friends Meeting
Dear Friends, Recently, over 150 faith and secular organizations released an open letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris entitled Ending the Practice of Solitary Confinement: Recommendations for Federal Reform. The letter urges them to take administrative action to end solitary confinement in all federal settings – Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). NRCAT has also joined with the Unlock the Box Campaign, Vera Institute of Justice, ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights and #HALTsolitary Campaign to form a Federal Anti-Solitary Task Force (FAST). We have just released a new Blueprint to End Solitary Confinement for the Federal Government that can guide both Congress and the Biden Administration on the steps needed to end solitary in all federal prisons and detention centers. On June 7, NBC ran an exclusive article on the Blueprint, which gave us good press coverage and visibility. Now, your members of Congress need to hear from you. TELL CONGRESS: END FEDERAL SOLITARY CONFINEMENT Write to Congress now and let them know that you want to see the U.S. government end solitary confinement in all federal settings – following the lead of states like NY, NJ and CO which have already taken significant steps to end this torturous practice. Sincerely, Johnny Perez, Director U.S. Prisons Program
Early Palmetto Friends Gathering Photographs
Helen White at first the first Palmetto Friends Gathering on Martin Luther King Day in 1990. Helen and her husband Edwin lived in Colombia, SA, for some years when they taught at a Mennonite School located out from Bogotá.
An early 1990s Palmetto Friends Gathering at the Lexington, SC, YMCA showing, among others, long-time Penn Center directors Elizabeth and Courtney Siceloff, Marian Beane, Harry Rogers and Jim Henderson [front-right].